1) Major technology firms are racing to infuse smartphones and other internet-linked devices with software smarts that help them think like people.
The effort is seen as an evolution in computing that allows users to interact with machines in natural conversation style, telling devices to tend to tasks such as ordering goods, checking traffic, making restaurant reservations or searching for information.
2) Japan will lease additional land next year to expand a military base in Djibouti, eastern Africa, as a counterweight to what it sees as growing Chinese influence in the region, three Japanese government sources said.
China is seeking closer ties with African nations that could help it gain access to natural resources and provide new markets. Beijing said late last year it would pump $60 billion into development projects on the continent, cancel some debt and help boost agriculture.
3) Japan has protested to China over signs it is pressing ahead with maritime gas exploration in the East China Sea despite Tokyo’s repeated requests to stop, Japan’s top government spokesman said on Wednesday.
The exploration platforms are on the Chinese side of the median line between the two countries, but Japan accuses China of ignoring a 2008 agreement to maintain cooperation on resources development in an area where no official border has been drawn.
4) Lashing back, Donald Trump heatedly rejected the growing list of sexual assault allegations against him as “pure fiction” on Thursday, hammering his female accusers as “horrible, horrible liars” as the already-nasty presidential campaign sank further into charges of attacks on women.
Campaign foe Hillary Clinton said “the disturbing stories just keep on coming” about her Republican opponent, but she let first lady Michelle Obama’s passionate response carry the day. Obama, in battleground New Hampshire, warned that the New York billionaire’s behavior “is not something we can ignore.”
5) A teacher in her 30s who works at Nihon University’s Third Junior and Senior High School in the Tokyo suburban city of Machida, commenting after the Tokyo District Court rejected her claim that the school operator let her use her pre-marriage surname at work. The court ruled it is reasonable and necessary for an employer to demand employees use their names registered in the family registry.
6) Try a lychee-flavored coffee infused with jasmine, or a “Chardonnay” espresso served in a wine glass—whatever your taste, Japan’s swashbuckling baristas are bringing some serious sex appeal to the drink.
In a country famous for its tea, the Japanese are increasingly turning to coffee as a quick-fix to help ease the daily grind. Hipster cafés are popping up everywhere, offering exquisitely curated beverages to satisfy even the fussiest of caffeine addicts.
Japan imports over 430,000 tons of coffee a year—behind only the United States and Germany—and boasts some of the world’s top baristas.
7) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to refrain from visiting the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine during its autumn festival next week to avoid damaging Japan’s relations with South Korea and China ahead of a summit of the three countries later this year, government sources said Thursday.
The Japanese government is planning to host in early December a trilateral summit of the three countries for the first time in five and a half years, with the aim of deepening cooperation for regional stabilization.
8) Tokyo’s governor said on Wednesday that now was the last chance to take steps to rein in soaring costs for the city’s 2020 Olympics, projected to cost 3 trillion yen – over four times higher than planned.
Gov Yuriko Koike, who took office in August, ordered a review of Olympic expenses that last month recommended changing three venues to save money, a move criticised by both the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and international sports officials.
9) Book shops and music stores in Japan on Friday set up special sections devoted to renowned singer-songwriter Bob Dylan after he was awarded the Nobel prize in literature for 2016 on Thursday.
A spokesman for HMV&Books Tokyo said he wants this to be an opportunity for young people to know about the legendary musician, Fuji TV reported.
As in previous years, acclaimed Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami had been anticipated to win the award, and fans were met with a mix of confusion and surprise as it was given to Dylan, media reported.
10) Kumamoto Prefecture and its neighboring areas Friday marked six months since the first of two powerful earthquakes rattled Japan’s southwestern region, killing a combined 50 people, with rebuilding homes for displaced residents remaining an issue.
Local officials said all evacuation centers in Kumamoto are expected to be closed in the next few weeks, even though there are still 205 evacuees taking refuge at shelters as of Thursday.
11) On Wednesday morning, the U.S. military fired Tomahawk cruise missiles from the battleship U.S.S. Nitze, destroying three radar sites on the coast of Yemen, on the Red Sea. The sites are controlled by Houthi rebels. The rebels have been fighting pro-government Yemeni forces. The U.S. is an ally of neighboring Saudi Arabia, which is also fighting the Houthi rebels.